The time honored practice of making cedar shakes has changed little in the last 100 years. While machinery is used, human hands and precision are still essential throughout the process. There are multiple spots on the globe that produce shakes but none compare to Vancouver, Canada where the finest mills make the majority of this gorgeous roofing product.
There are few roofing companies in the United States that specialize solely in the cedar shake roofing system. Shake Guys, Chicagoland’s cedar roofing experts, take their product more seriously than most. Yearly pilgrimages to the source are a big deal for Shake Guys founder, Chad Janisch. Meeting with those manufacturing cedar shakes is essential to building relationships that benefit the homeowners back in Illinois. Being able to cherry pick the finest wood is a monumental delineation amongs roofers! Pure heartwood premium 100% edge grain is the ticket.
There is another factor which separates companies, like Shake Guys, that have strong ties to manufacturers; we get the best even when supplies are scarce! As you’ll see below, when the rivers that carry the logs run too low to flow logs downstream there is a shortage. Every few years this happens and the resulting shortage of premium shake is diminished. Shake Guys prides itself on the ability to give their clients the best – no matter what!
Manufacturing Cedar Shakes Starts with Collecting Soggy Logs
Western Red Cedar logs float down rivers from the forests they were harvested by the Canadian logging industry and are actually a byproduct. The logs are collected by boom boats that maneuver them over to the mill’s bank to be strapped and winched onto tracks up to the mill.
Entering the Mill
As the logs enter the mill they meet with an 8 foot diameter circular saw that cuts them into correct lengths. Hand held chainsaws may be employed to finish the job on the largest logs. Next, a hydraulic axe splits logs into blocks. The operator controlling the axe is looking carefully for the perfect splitting spots to get the best grains and split sizes.
Cutting, Selecting, Splitting, & Finishing
Now it’s into the mill factory where the blocks are separated into grades based on quality. The blocks for shakes are hand split while shingles are sawn to the correct dimension. Both shakes and shingles are processed to check that the edges are straight, defect free, and the correct length, width, and thickness. There are a variety of other cuts and surfacing techniques that are employed to make specialty shakes and shingles. Tiles are then collated into bundles of type and grade (grade being grain direction and overall perfection based).
Moving the Product
Bundles are tightly strapped and labeled before being inspected by a third party for quality insurance. Bundles are loaded onto pallets or shipping containers before being transported to the holding yards (indoor or outdoor facilities). These pallets will eventually be placed on large trucks for shipments throughout Canada and the United States.
Give us a call if you or someone you know has a cedar roof that needs repairs or replacing. Unsure of what your repair or maintenance needs are?